Defunct Airline’s Workers Protest Loss of Jobs

Fifty former employees of the de­funct state airline Royal Air Cambodge burned a tire in front of the carrier’s main office Mon­day to protest their lost jobs on the first anniversary of the airline’s closure.

“We demand that the government give us compensation or find jobs for us, because Royal Air Cambodge is a state company,” said one demonstrator, who would not give his name for fear of retaliation.

The state carrier stopped flights on Oct 16, 2001, when its joint partner, Malaysia helicopter Services Berhad, took back its only remaining aircraft, leaving RAC with workers but no wings.

The airline still technically exists but has been unable to find a new partner or funding to supply it with the aircraft it needs.

Mon­day’s demonstrators were mostly ground engineers and cabin-crew, who were let go when the flights stopped. “There are three things the Council of Min­isters could do—send us to work for the Air Force, reopen RAC or pay us half our annual salaries. But…the Council of Min­isters has delayed and delayed, and our problem has not been solved,” a former cabin crew member said at the demonstration.

Protesters burned a tire in front of RAC’s Norodom Boule­vard headquarters, creating a plume of thick, black smoke and attracting several policemen. They said they thought their protest would otherwise be ignored.

“Our patience has limits,” said another demonstrator, a ground engineer. He said 288 employees have been left jobless by the airline’s closure and have demanded that the government join the former workers for negotiations.

“The government always says we lack human resources, but now our human resources have be­­come motorcycle taxi drivers,” the engineer said.

Tea Sutha, undersecretary of state in the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, said some RAC employees are working for the Air Force but many were waiting and hoping for the airline to reopen since they would have priority for any new jobs. “The demonstrators have waited a long time for their jobs,” Tea Sutha said. “We can’t argue with them.”


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